Most people who aspire to become nurses often ask, "Do I need a BSN?" For many decades, the most popular path people followed to become registered nurses was an associate's degree. However, things have changed drastically and most employers nowadays prefer individuals who have graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics now lists bachelor's degree as the minimum entry-level education for professional nurses, replacing the popular associate's degree and the two-year diploma.
BSN is Important
Nurses currently enjoy some of the best job prospects when compared to other professionals. They benefit from many job growth opportunities, greater career mobility and more job satisfaction. The Affordable Care Act has further enhanced their prospects, with employers hiring more nurses to meet the high demand created by the increased number of patients seeking healthcare. The greater focus on preventive care and the rising cases of chronic diseases have also increased the demand for highly trained nurses to provide quality care.
BSN is Now the Standard Academic Qualification
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) presented a report calling for an increase in the number of nurses who have BSN degrees. Many healthcare facilities have heeded the call by changing their recruitment policies to accommodate more BSN graduates. The health facilities have not been the only ones who have responded positively. States such as New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey have established laws that require all registered nurses to have bachelor's degrees. Even governmental agencies like the Department of Veteran Affairs and the US Army require those seeking nursing positions to have BSN degrees. The American Nurses Association has also passed laws that require all the registered nurses with diplomas or associate's degrees to upgrade to BSN within 10 years of licensure.
Employers Now Prefer BSN Applicants
Most of the job listings have "BSN preferred" or "BSN required" clauses. Those without an accredited BSN degree are finding it very difficult to land a job in any hospital or healthcare system. The employers cite stronger abilities to think critically and provide the right leadership as the major reason why they prefer BSN candidates. Many hospitals also prefer BSN applicants to enable them meet the requirements of the coveted Magnet Recognition, a title that signifies that over 80 percent of the facility's nursing staff are BSN graduates.
More Opportunities for Career Advancement
A survey was recently done on 8,000 people working as registered nurses across the country. Each nurse was asked to reveal his or her annual salary. The salaries were then classified based on the academic qualifications of the respondents. The survey found that nurses with associate's degrees and diplomas earned $73,000 while those with BSN or any other relevant bachelor's degree earned $79,000. A BSN degree not only allows you to earn a better salary, but it is also a stepping stone towards desirable positions in your field. Many managerial and specialty roles require applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree.
Improved Quality of Service
Experts in medicine and healthcare agree that more education of nurses amounts to improved patient outcomes in hospitals. Even a 10 percent increase in the proportion of more educated nurses directly lowers the odds of patient mortality by a larger margin.
A BSN degree is now the standard academic qualification in many states and is the most preferred credential during recruitment. Those who ask, "Do I need a BSN?" will find all the answers they need in the items discussed above.